The Rise and Fall of the Old Stover

| March/April 1993

  • Stover Engine
    The Stover (far right) on the way to Jamestown, Kentucky.
  • W. O. Lewis
    W. O. Lewis and grandson Neil at work producing corn meal from the grist mill.

  • Stover Engine
  • W. O. Lewis

P.O. Box 189, Hurley, New York 12504.

It was a clear Hudson Valley morning, with a light breeze and a temperature of about sixty degrees. I was making final preparations for a trip back to visit the people and places of my youth in Ohio and Kentucky. Driving past an old junk shop, I decided to stop by and look for a couple of parts that you just can't find in hardware stores anymore.

While browsing, something caught my eye. Stored outside, against a barn wall and covered by plastic, was something which looked remarkably like the flywheel of an old one-cylinder engine. I wandered over to take a closer look. Sure enough, there was a Stover CT 2? horse engine buried under a pile of other 'treasures.' It was, to my eyes, a beauty-dual flywheels, sleek lines, and seemingly intact. Twenty minutes later, somewhat lighter in the wallet, I drove away with that engine.

I got started with engines as a way to spend time with my grandfather, W. O. Lewis. He was an engineer with G. E., now retired, and if you hang around him for very long, you naturally end up knowing a little something about these old engines. Figuring he might be interested, I took the Stover along on my tour of the countryside between New York and Kentucky.

Over the course of several visits and a couple of years, we became partners in this engine, and managed to fix it up-a cracked head, a bent valve, a magneto which needed adjustment-the usual stuff. I will confess that I did more watching than working, but it was still quite a triumph when that engine turned over and began to chug away, breaking the late afternoon calm of the quiet little village of Pumpkin Creek, Kentucky, as it settled into a hit-and-miss cycle.

A couple of weeks later the engine made its way over to a show held during Jamestown, Kentucky's Community Days. I wasn't there, but my brother Neil said it was a good day-all of the engines on the trailer ran well. On the way back to Pumpkin Creek, though, disaster struck. The Stover is a bit top-heavy, and when you combine that with a winding road and a sharp turn, well, the engine took a tumble. Neil later described the scene as a rather spectacular event, what with the engine going through a series of flips, turns, and bounces as it danced down the highway.


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